My job involves driving a van around neighborhoods looking for
customers. You see, most people are too embarrassed to call for help, even
when the problem gets so bad that they have trouble living in their house.
So I cruise around areas, looking for certain signs that might indicate a
problem, sometimes calling into the dispatcher in case someone has the
courage to admit they need help. It's a decent job, somewhat humbling for
me with all my degrees and experience. Still, it pays well and the work
isn't hard, just a little dull. And, of course, just a touch surreal. All
this is going through my head as I drive through the affluent suburbs
One sunny Saturday morning, the dispatcher sends me to a nice
neighborhood in Manlius. As I pull into the driveway, I see the signs. Oh
yeah. They're pretty clear: This house has a problem. A big one. But maybe
it's just on the outside. I've got solutions for external problems. It's
when they go inside that things get much more tricky. I'd better go in,
take a look around, let them know the professional has arrived, see how bad
the problem really is.
"Thank God you're here!" the obviously relieved woman of the house
says, letting me in. "We weren't sure what to do. I mean, they're
everywhere, and we thought maybe they'd just leave after a few days. But…"
"They didn't. They just kept spreading, and more showed up, and you
thought 'This can't be happening'. But it was, and it is. Right?" I keep a
straight face, knowing she's really upset and she needs me to be a
Professional about this.
"Yes, exactly. And then I remembered…" She tells me a long story about
how she knows someone who knows someone who had this problem last year, and
they called my company, and we took care of it. Quickly, discreetly,
"Ma'am, I'm glad you called." I look into the living room. There's one
on the TV, several nesting on the couch, one sitting on a lamp, a family
walking into the bathroom—must be time to train the little ones about
water. And then the clincher: A young boy walks by, looking sad and
defeated. There's a white duck on his head, looking quite self-assured and
"Yep, you've got a duck problem here. Fortunately, I'm a professional;
I can help you. Just take your family out for a few hours and I'll take
care of everything." And she leaves, so relieved, and I head out to the van
to get the tools I'll need.
Yeah, this is my job, and I'm not proud of it, but when I can see how
much I'm needed by people, I don't feel quite so silly. I feel powerful,
My name is Glenn Hamilton, and I'm a professional duck exterminator.
Submitted by reader S.P.